Raj Kapoor, Indian film actor, producer, and director of Indian cinema. He was born at Kapoor Haveli in Peshawar to actor Prithviraj Kapoor– he was a member of the Kapoor family which has produced several Bollywood superstars.
Kapoor is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors and filmmakers in the history of Hindi cinema. He received multiple honors, including 3 National Film Awards and 11 Filmfare Awards in India. The Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award is named after Raj Kapoor. He was a two-time nominee for the Palme d’Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954). His performance in Awaara was ranked as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time by Time magazine. His films attracted worldwide audiences, particularly in Asia and Europe. He was called “the Clark Gable of the Indian film industry”.
The Government of India honored him with the Padma Bhushan in 1971 for his contributions to the arts. India’s highest award in cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, was bestowed on him in 1987 by the Government of India.
Kapoor was born into a Punjabi Hindu Family in 1924 at Kapoor Haveli, a house then owned by his father, in Peshawar.
At the age of ten, he appeared in Bollywood films for the first time, in 1935’s Inquilab. Raj Kapoor’s big break came with the lead role in Neel Kamal (1947) opposite Madhubala in her first role as a leading lady. In 1948, at the age of twenty-four, he established his own studio, R.K Films and became the youngest film director of his time making his directorial debut with Aag starring himself, Nargis, Kamini Kaushal, and Premnath.
In May 1946, Raj Kapoor married Krishna Malhotra. Krishna’s father was Prithviraj Kapoor’s maternal cousin. It was a match arranged by their families, according to Hindu traditions. Raj and Krishna Kapoor had five children: three sons, actors Randhir, Rishi, and Rajiv and two daughters, Ritu Nanda and Rima Jain.
He went on to produce and star in several hit films made under his R. K. Banner including Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Jagte Raho (1956) and Jis Desh me Ganga Behti hai (1960), the last was directed by Radhu Karmakar his longtime cinematographer, and which won Filmfare Award for Best Film.
Outside of his home productions, his other notable films as a leading actor included Dastan (1950), Anhonee (1952), Aah (1953), Chori Chori (1956), Anari (1959), Chalia (1960) and Dil hi toh hai (1963). He also produced the hit social films Boot Polish (1954) and Ab Dilli door nahi.
n 1970 he produced, directed and starred in his ambitious film Mera Naam Joker which took more than six years to complete. His son Rishi Kapoor made his debut in this film playing the younger version of his character. When released in 1970, it was a box office disaster and put Kapoor and his family into a financial crisis. In later years it was acknowledged as a cult classic.
In 1971, he launched his eldest son Randhir Kapoor in the family drama Kal Aaj Aur Kal starring himself, his son Randhir, his father Prithviraj Kapoor as well as Randhir’s to-be wife Babita. He launched his second son Rishi Kapoor’s career in 1973 when he produced and directed Bobby which was a huge box office success and introduced actress Dimple Kapadia.
He was set to direct Henna starring his son Rishi and Pakistani actress Zeba Bakhtiar before his death in 1988. His son Randhir directed the film and it released in 1991.
Raj Kapoor suffered from asthma in his later years; he died of complications related to asthma in 1988 at the age of 63. He collapsed at the event where he was to receive the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) for treatment. He was hospitalized for about a month before he succumbed to complications arising from his asthma.